Justin Jeppesen: What Is Probate?

Probate is a nebulous term that many people fear simply because they do not understand it. It is simply the process of distributing a deceased person’s possessions to those beneficiaries that are entitled to receive the inheritance. There is more detail involved, but that is the overview of Probate. There are five basic steps involved in the Probate process.


First, if there is a Last Will and Testament and it has to be validated by the Court. Idaho law requires that a deceased person’s Will be filed in the county where they resided before death or whichever county they held real property in. There is no real benefit to selecting one county over another, as all are relatively similar.

Second, if there is a Will, it names the person who is to be in charge of making sure everything is done correctly.  That person in Idaho is called Personal Representative (PR). Or, if there is no Will appointing a PR, Idaho law specifies who is entitled to be appointed.  Typically, that will be a surviving spouse if there is one.  If not, then the surviving children are entitled to the appointment.

Third, the appointed Personal Representative gathers all of the deceased person’s assets. This portion can be a difficult task if no guidance has been provided for the PR. That is why I provide a binder to each client containing their estate planning documents, plus a section to use to organize their lives for just such an occasion.

Fourth, after all of the assets have been gathered the PR pays any bills of the deceased person. These bills can come from creditors, taxes, etc. The bills are either known or unknown. To find out about unknown bills, the court required filing a Notice to Creditors. Here in the Boise, Meridian, and Eagle area, you would file the notice with The Idaho Statesman.

Fifth, after the period of time required for the Notice to Creditor and if there are no on-going disputes concerning the Estate, the PR then distributes the assets according to the Will or, if no Will, to the Heirs at Law and the Estate closes. Thus ending Probate.

Each step of the process works out differently, because each person and their situation is different. But, that is the basic structure of Probate.

If you would like to set up your Will, or you have been tasked with being a Personal Representative and would like a free initial consultation, please contact Justin at 208-477-1785 or visit http://www.jeppesenlaw.com for more information.